In 2012, South Africa’s wine tourism was rated the best-developed in the world by International Wine Review, one of the world’s most influential opinion formers on wine.  The world is catching on with destinations responding to the growing demand for wine and food tourism with new exciting offerings and alluring marketing campaigns.

The time has come for South Africa to take its place as the leading wine and food tourism destination. The Ministry of Tourism will be presenting the first-ever national wine tourism strategy at the upcoming The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference in November, offering the industry a unified strategy that will propel the sector forwards.

International culinary and wine tourism has seen significant growth during the last few years. It is important that the local hospitality industry equips itself to take advantage of this growth, establishing South Africa as a wine tourism destination renowned for exceptional value, quality and hospitality. This can only be done through industry specific training and a unified strategy under which all sectors can flourish, ultimately enabling economic growth for all players.

Key industry figures recently met in anticipation of the upcoming conference and the unveiling of the unified strategy, which has been developed in consultation with the wine and tourism sectors. They are excited by the opportunities that such a strategy could offer, and were positive about the long term benefits to the local industry.  Carolyn Martin from Creation Wines says: “Brands are created through experiences and there is no better product to do this than through wine tourism.  Share in this great opportunity for South African Wine Business, by attending the conference.”

Roy Davies, GM of the Vineyard Hotel adds: “Wine tourism is very much part of the hospitality industry in the Cape, with the growth in culinary travel, hotels and the wine industry intrinsically linked. The Vineyard has seen an increase in travellers interested in food and wine, and therefore vineyards as destinations on any itinerary.”

Mike Ratcliffe, MD of Warwick Wine is positive about the need for this conference: “One million bottles of South African wine are sold per day, worldwide. This creates many opportunities for job creation and hospitality businesses to grow and expand. The conference taking place in November is a massive step in the right direction, with the launch of a united, national wine tourism strategy. We will be there!”

Those who have invested in the tourism offering of wine estates are reaping the rewards and know that the real opportunity for economic growth in the sector lies within hospitality and not in the wine itself. We look at destination farms like Delaire Graff Estate, which has been repositioned as a wine, food and art experience. Johann Laubser, GM of Delaire Graff Estate says: “Delaire Graff Estate has invested millions in wine tourism in the last few years. Wine industry players underestimate the impact of wine tourism on a wine business – the opportunities and potential for growth is huge. Thanks to our wine tourism offering, we now even experienced a busy winter season, whilst running at full capacity in high season. We look forward to attending the conference in November, and I am especially excited about the launch of the first National Wine Tourism Strategy for South Africa. I believe the timing is perfect!”

The conference will take place on 1 and 2 November at Spier Wine Estate, and is open to local and international delegates. We urge delegates to register at well before the end of October, as the workshops are very popular, and numbers are limited. The full schedule can be found here. Be sure to book your place and be part of writing a new future of South Africa’s food and wine story.

Be part of the conversation, follow the hashtag #WFConf2016 on Twitter or Facebook for updates.